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Teen philanthropy group awards $15,000 in grants to battle student stress in Berks County

May 23, 2017 • by Youth Advisory Committee of Berks County Community Foundation
Members of the Youth Advisory Committee who are seniors graduating from high school, and from the YAC program, in 2017: (front row, left to right) Rebecca Gafencu, Kelly Weikel, Jamie Weikel; (back row, left to right) Teddy Auman, Tahj Morales, Callie Marley, Emily Scheuring, Joseph Fylypowycz, Jamie Harpel, Matthew Feryo, and Jenna Miller. Seniors missing: Michael Favata and Amy Shields.

READING, PA – Seven programs that assist children and teens struggling with academic stress will receive $15,000 in grants due to the efforts of the Youth Advisory Committee of Berks County Community Foundation.

The 30 teen members of the Youth Advisory Committee (YAC), who represent schools from around Berks County, hope to increase academic success by giving students tools to handle stress that can affect them socially, mentally, and physically.

“Academic stress was an issue we all agreed was the most prevalent not only among the youth in Berks, but also around the country,” said Michael Favata, a YAC member and a senior at Fleetwood Area High School. “It’s something that every student will experience throughout their schooling. We thought we could impact Berks County the most this year by tackling this topic.”

YAC members meet throughout the school year to raise funds, evaluate organizations that tackle important issues, and decide which groups will receive grants from the Youth and Philanthropy Fund of Berks County Community Foundation.

Started in 1998, YAC teaches teenagers about philanthropy and helps them understand issues that affect the community. Since that time, YAC has distributed $298,258 in grants.

“The elite students in YAC come from different schools and have different hobbies and interests but collectively want to make Berks County better and stronger for the kids in their community,” said Keri Shultz, YAC Advisor for the Community Foundation. “I continue to be impressed by the amount of emotional energy YACsters invest in the grants they make. From their careful review of the applications to developing questions for their site visits with applicants, they set high standards for the dollars entrusted to them to award. For programs that receive grants from YAC, in addition to obtaining necessary monetary support, these organizations also receive important validation that students find these programs worthy.”

This year’s YAC grants:

$4,000 to Mifflin Community Library for the Mindfulness for Youth program, which teaches children and teens with positive strategies to cope with many of the stressors they encounter daily.$3,000 to Brandywine Heights Community Task Force, which offers a safe, supervised location for middle school students after the regular school day.$2,150 to West Reading Community Revitalization Foundation for its mural project, which will provide a healthy social, mental, and physical outlet for students as they work on a collaborative project that will also create an environment that relieves stress.$2,100 to Girls on the Run of Berks County, which works with girls in grades 3-8 to present a personal development program that creatively integrates running.$1,750 to Wyomissing Public Library, which has a project to help 11-, 12-, and 13-year-olds deal with stress during six weeks of classes in yoga, meditation, nutrition and more.$1,000 to BIG Vision Foundation to present a day of fun and physical activity to youth who are disadvantaged or disabled.$1,000 to Rudden Family Foundation, which has a program that supports 20 Reading School District students by giving them a desk, chair, lamp, computer and printer.

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